Monday, June 13, 2011

Animal Alphabet: K is for Kaka, Kea, and Kakapo

This week's Animal Alphabet entry is a threefer, because I couldn't decide between the three living members of the Strigopidae family.

That's right, antipodean parrot fans: this week, K is for Kaka, Kea, and Kakapo.

While I was picking a critter for this week's post, I started noticing how many of the iconic animals of Australia and New Zealand start with k. As of the point when I'm writing this, we already have Animal Alphabet entries for the kookaburra and the kiwi, and there's no reason we couldn't see the kangaroo or the koala.

I'm not sure why there are so many K-creatures down under, although I imagine it must have to do with both the prominence of the hard C in the native languages and the historical ascent of K as a way to spell that sound in English, perhaps as part of a general drift away from Latinate spellings for the things of the larger world. (After all, English had names for none of these critters before Captain Cook and Joseph Banks hit the Southern Hemisphere in 1769. That's pretty recent, in terms of the history of the language.)

Anyway, since I had decided to focus on three of the parrots peculiar to New Zealand, and since I can't think of New Zealand without thinking of its greatest cartoonist, I decided to include a local character of his (who also starts with "K") as an appropriate tour guide to the parrots.

No comments: